Flexible Education – web-based bilingual content instruction
The purpose of the Flexible Education project is to test whether and how it is possible to offer bilingual content instruction via web-based solutions. The testing started in January 2017, and from autumn 2018 the project will be continued in a two-year pilot project. Flexible Education began as a programme for pupils in lower secondary school, but is now also open to participants from primary and lower secondary education for adults and combination classes. Around 120 pupils participated in the project in the 2017/2018 academic year, in 2018/2019 there are around 200 pupils and in 2019/2020, there will be around 300 pupils. The pilot offers bilingual content instruction in the languages Arabic, Somali and Tigrinya in the subjects mathematics and natural science. We hope to eventually be able to expand the project to include more languages, more subjects and more participants.
Background to the project
There is a great need for bilingual instruction, especially for newly arrived pupils. The extent to which the municipalities manage to meet minority language students’ need for bilingual instruction varies, although the Norwegian Education Act states that minority language pupils who are not sufficiently proficient in Norwegian are entitled to such instruction. The project is not intended to replace bilingual teachers, but targets schools that have been unable to recruit bilingual teachers in Arabic, Somali and Tigrinya.
What the bilingual content instruction entails
The pupils participating in the project have a chance to communicate with teachers in their mother tongue through web-based solutions. They can take part in scheduled teaching sessions or contact the online teachers in their mother tongue when they need help. Flexible Education is a supplement to ordinary teaching, and the local teacher has overall responsibility for the subject. The project’s success is contingent on good cooperation between the online teachers and the classroom teachers. The pupils have access to a bilingual platform with learning resources in Norwegian and their mother tongue, such as instructional videos, texts, assignments and glossaries.
The National Centre for Multicultural Education (NAFO) has hired four bilingual teachers for the project. The online teachers are responsible for instructing the pupils and developing the learning resources. We have cooperated closely with the Norwegian Centre for ICT in Education on building and adapting the platform. We also cooperate with the Norwegian Centre for Science Education and the Norwegian Centre for Mathematics Education on among other things developing glossaries that provide simple explanations of key terms in maths and natural science. The glossaries are prepared with the assistance of the Language Council of Norway.
The project is attracting attention
Flexible Education is also being noticed outside Norway’s borders. The project is presented at Nordic and international conferences, and was submitted to the international organisation Act Now as an example of promising practice in Norway. In that connection, a film was produced about Flexible Education which was screened at an international conference in Vienna.
Criteria for participating in the project
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Online teacher Somali
Online teacher Arabic
Online teacher Tigrinya
Online teacher Arabic